HDZ Offers Ministerial Positions to HNS?

By 2 June 2017

Will HNS enter the ruling coalition?

On Wednesday, Parliament will begin a new session in which Prime Minister Andrej Plenković should propose four candidates to replace the four MOST ministers which he dismissed in May. It is still not known who these candidates might be, report Večernji List and Jutarnji List on June 2, 2017.

It is not even clear whether the vote on the new ministers will take place on 7 June, as was announced previously by Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković, or whether that might be postponed until 12 or 13 June, as unofficial sources claim.

The Prime Minister is expected to finalise talks with potential new coalition partners next week, after the second round of local elections on Sunday, when it should be clear whether or not HDZ has a new parliamentary majority. The names of the ministerial candidates will depend on the outcome of these talks.

It is possible that HDZ will now try to find just a bare majority of 76 or 77 votes, enough for new ministers to be confirmed, and then try to expand the majority over the summer. Another option is that HNS might enter the ruling coalition. According to rumors in the media, HNS leadership demands a position of deputy prime minister and three ministries, including the Ministry of Education which would include the curricular reform portfolio. However, a precondition for any agreement between HDZ and HNS is for HNS’s candidate for Zagreb Mayor Anka Mrak Taritaš to lose on Sunday, since she is strongly opposed to any coalition with HDZ.

According to sources from within HNS, the party is divided into three camps regarding possible cooperation with HDZ. One group advocates for an immediate coalition with HDZ at the national level. This group is allegedly headed by party president Ivan Vrdoljak and supported by prominent party members from Dalmatia and Slavonia.

The second group would like to avoid early parliamentary elections at all costs but, if possible, without entering into a coalition with HDZ. This position is reportedly advocated by HNS officials currently holding power in municipalities, towns, and counties where HNS is in the majority.

There is also a third group which rejects the possibility of entering into a coalition with HDZ. Among them are former party president and former Foreign Minister Vesna Pusić, candidate for Mayor of Zagreb Anka Mrak Taritaš, as well as HNS’s members of Parliament Goran Beus Richembergh and Nada Turina Đurić.

Pressure on HNS to support HDZ is reportedly growing, especially after Prime Minister Plenković allegedly offered Vrdoljak the four former MOST ministries, in exchange for the support of HNS’s 9 MPs. “If they agree, Vrdoljak would probably become Minister of Environmental Protection and Energy, HNS would also have the ministries of justice and administration, as well as the Ministry of Education, as a substitute for the Interior Ministry. HNS could then continue with the curricular reform,” said a source.

Interestingly, next week, two or three days after the second round of local elections, previously unplanned sessions of the HNS Presidency and the Main Committee will be held, which could indicate that significant decisions will be made.

Early on Friday morning, Vrdoljak posted a telling message on Facebook, referring to a protest held for curricular reform. “Today, more than ever, I am confident that the education reform will define the future of Croatia. I will do everything in my power to start its implementation as soon as possible, even if that is the last thing I will ever do in politics,” wrote Vrdoljak.